I HAVE received the two baskets of leached persimmons1 and the basket of eggplants you sent. Concerning the matter of [your husband] the lay priests illness, there were physicians in China named Huang Ti and Pien Chüeh,2 and there were physicians in India named Water Holder3 and Jivaka. They were the treasures of their age and teachers to the physicians of later times. But the man called the Buddha was a superb physician who far surpassed them. This Buddha expounded the medicine of immortality. This is the five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo we have today. Moreover, he specifically taught that these five characters are good medicine for the ills of the people of Jambudvipa.4
The lay priest is a man of Japan, which lies within Jambudvipa, and furthermore he suffers from bodily illness. The sutra passage about good medicine for illness is clear. In addition, this Sutra of the Lotus is the greatest medicine. When a wicked ruler named King Virudhaka killed more than five hundred women of the Buddhas clan, the Buddha sent Ananda to Eagle Peak for blue lotus flowers that he then touched to the bodies of the women, who were restored to life and after seven days were reborn in the heaven of the thirty-three gods. Because the flower known as the lotus is a flower
possessing such excellent virtue, the Buddha likened it to the Mystic Law.
Also, a persons death is not determined by illness. In our own time, the people of Iki and Tsushima, though not suffering from illness, were slaughtered in an instant by the Mongols. It is not certain that, because one is ill, one will die. And could not this illness of your husbands be the Buddhas design, because the Vimalakirti and Nirvana sutras both teach that sick people will surely attain Buddhahood? Illness gives rise to the resolve to attain the way.
Among all the diseases, the Buddha worried that the five cardinal sins, incorrigible disbelief, and slander of the Law were especially grave ones. Without a single exception, the people of Japan today are afflicted with the most serious of all illnesses, the grave illness of major slander. I refer to the followers of the Zen, Nembutsu, and Precepts schools, and to the True Word teachers. Because their illness is so serious, neither do they recognize it in themselves, nor are others aware of it. And because this illness worsens, warriors from throughout the four seas will attack at any moment, and the ruler, his ministers, and the common people will all sink into the sea. To see this before ones very eyes is indeed a painful thing.
In his present life, the lay priest does